Small Changes Make a BIG Difference

by Natalie on May 16, 2011

When I sat down to write this post, all I could think about was a picture of my brother and I when we were kids. He was wearing a t-shirt that said “little….IN A BIG WAY.”

This statement describes how I feel about diet changes. Small diet changes can make a BIG difference in your health!

There are many people out there who want to have a healthy diet but feel like it is too far out of their reach and so they never even try.

People I have counseled before have told me they have not attempted change because they “just can’t do it”.

I think this attitude comes from the belief that you have to overhaul your entire diet in order to be healthy. Well I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.

A healthy diet is a pursuit, not an endpoint. There is never going to be a point when you are like “ok I am eating perfectly, now what?”. This is where a lot of fad diets go wrong. They take you down a path that will eventually end and when its over, most people go back to the way they were eating before. Nothing has really changed and that is why diets don’t work.

A healthy diet is something you will continue to work towards for the rest of your life. That is why it’s ok to start making small changes. If you change too much at one time, you will be more likely to fail.

What Does a Small Change Look Like?

A small diet change could be anything from switching white bread to 100% whole wheat bread, cutting down from 4 cans to 2 cans of soda per day, or by telling yourself that you will eat a vegetable serving at dinner everyday.

Identifying Behaviors to Change

Identifying which eating behaviors to change can be difficult. There may be many things you are doing wrong that you didn’t think were bad. This is were a registered dietitian (R.D.) can really help. A dietitian can help you figure out which changes will have the most impact, and can help you set realistic goals to make those changes.

One helpful exercise you can do on your own is a food intake record for 3 days. This is where you write down everything you eat and drink for 3 days. For best results choose 2 weekdays and 1 weekend day. The more honest you are during the recording process, the better. After your 3 days, review your report closely.

What trends do you see? Are you eating too many desserts? Drinking too much pop or juice? Consuming too many fried foods? Not eating any fruits and vegetables?

This can be one of the most eye opening experiences for someone trying to change their diet. It can be shocking to see everything written down. I highly recommend this exercise.

The negative diet trends you identify in your 3 day report will be your behaviors to change. Pick 2 things you want to change in your diet that you think would make a big impact. Now ask yourself, how can I fix these problems? What is a realistic goal? The more specific your goal the more likely it will be accomplished. Here are some examples:

  • I will decrease my soda intake from 4 cans to 2 cans a day.
  • I will purchase a new vegetable at the grocery store each week and learn how to cook it.
  • I will eat grilled chicken instead of fried chicken
  • I will throw out my bag of candy in my desk drawer and eat a piece of fruit as a snack instead.

Write your goals down and keep them in a place that you will look everyday.

Once you are consistently meeting your goals, congratulations! You have changed a behavior, but you are not done! Now it is time to continue the process and set some more goals. Again, I only recommend 2-3 goals at a time.

The important thing to remember with the small change process is that you complete your goals before setting new ones.

What small changes can you make in your diet? Leave a comment in the comments section.



Photo by: Caitlinator

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